Monday, 29 February 2016

The "Kudzu" of our Minds

Isn't it wonderful when things just link together nicely?! In the post before this one, Melinda Jensen raised the issue of sex in Christian fiction and very bravely and beautifully looked at the interaction between the words we read and our minds. 

And wouldn't you know it, the very thing that I was led to talk on in this post was our minds.

Some of you may have heard of a plant called "Kudzu?" For those who haven't, here's the Wikipedia description of it,

They are climbing, coiling, and trailing perennial vines ... Where these plants are naturalized, they can be invasive and are considered noxious weeds. The plant climbs over trees or shrubs and grows so rapidly that it kills them by heavy shading.[3] The plant is edible, but often sprayed with herbicides.[3]

If you have a moment, I recommend you go and google Kudzu, to see for yourself the insidious nature of the plant.

The imagery is quite frightening; vast expanses of land, huge trees, even entire houses, completely smothered by the ivy-like vines. 

This plant was introduced in the late 1800s as a good thing; an ornamental plant that could be used for land management, food for stock and even basket making, among other things. But, left unchecked, it rages out of control, and takes over everything in its path. 

As I read about the Kudzu and gazed on the images, something within my spirit was quickened; immediately I thought of our minds, and how quickly thoughts can be planted, and in no time at all completely smother our minds, our thinking, our ability to think rationally or with clarity.

Now I must point out, I'm not actually talking about sex...although yes,that is one very obvious one that can take hold, (and why I do agree that it should be very carefully handled in Christian fiction, if indeed included at all...again, I refer you to the discussion in the previous blog). But there are so many different thoughts or patterns that can be rooted in our minds, and some of them are actually good to begin with. It is when we start to let those thoughts or patterns take control of our mind that they lose their beauty or usefulness, and become noxious, robbing us of so many other good things. 

So what are some examples of these noxious mind-weeds? Here are three examples that I came up with:
  • Particularity - it's great to aim for a high standard in life; the Bible says we should do everything as if it was asked by God directly. But when particularity is allowed to grow into excessive proportions, our sense of peace can be completely overshadowed as it grows into the noxious weed of Perfectionism. Instead of pleasing God, the source of our inspiration, we start seeking other people's approval, perhaps out of fear of not being good enough, or perhaps out of a driving need to be the very best compared to others.

  • Pride - being proud of one's achievements is a good thing! We should be cheering ourselves on, sometimes louder than anyone else! But, if we allow our thoughts of self to get too big for their britches, pride can become a smothering Arrogance. We begin to do what we do for the accolades of others, perhaps because that is where we receive our self-worth. These thoughts will soon smother any sense of humility, and can be our undoing.
  • Prudence - being cautious and careful is an honorable quality, and shows wisdom. What happens though, when we begin to feel overly cautious? Or we become so well-planned that we are unable to allow room for spontaneity or, dare I say it, a Holy Spirit prompting to do something contrary to our plans?! If the seed of prudence is planted and allowed to grow without constraint in our minds, it becomes Rigidity. This is possibly the most dangerous of the three things listed here, as it can completely obscure our purpose, our passion and our fervor for life, and for God.
I could list many noxious weeds that have, by the love and grace of Jesus Christ, been uprooted from my own mind; I have many to still be removed. It's not easy; sometimes it's painful, even a little shameful. But oh, the freedom that I have experienced as I allow the Holy Spirit to convict and then get to work!

And my sincere prayer, as I write this blog, is that someone reading this will be gently, compassionately, lovingly convicted, so they, too, would allow our loving and glorious Father to start digging up the Kudzu of their mind, that they might be all they were created to be!


Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 NLT

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Erotica in Christian Fiction? Ahem ....

Ahem. Well, this is awkward. My past blog posts have tended to write themselves; an idea presents itself and takes me over for a week or two until the piece is written to my satisfaction. This time it’s different. The idea has presented itself, certainly, but as I sit here with only two days left before I’m due to post, I’m still skirting around the subject, procrastinating about where to start, let alone how to finish.

I keep telling myself that almost any other ‘suitable’ topic would do nicely and I really should stop trying to wrestle with the angels on this one. Yet, the question of whether or not erotica has a place in Christian fiction simply won’t let me go. I know there are Christians who include sex in their stories. I believe they’d defend their positions admirably and I hope to engage some healthy debate on this delicate yet important subject.

My personal view is that pornography is not only able to be viewed on a screen and in glossy magazines that contain more photographs than words, but can also be partaken of via the written word. To me, there is little difference between an image viewed with our physical eyes and an image created within our mind’s inner eye. In a spiritual sense, I would argue, they are one and the same. If that image is not of one’s spouse, we’re walking on some pretty shaky ground according to scripture. In the words of fellow Christian blogger, Sheila Wray Gregoire:
‘When we read, we take part in creating the story because we have to participate in picturing it and putting images to the words. Thus, we become really emotionally engaged in a book, often more than we would in a movie.’ (To love, honour and vacuum)
And according to Jesus himself, ‘You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  Matthew 5:27-28

God’s word makes it very clear that sex is a sacred gift to be enjoyed within the bounds of marriage. As writers, we need to look within ourselves and ask some revealing questions. If we were to write a sex scene, is it our own spouse we are imagining as we write? Is it a scene from our own experience within that marriage? If we can answer an unequivocal yes to this self-enquiry then we may be tempted to argue that we’re not actually overstepping God’s boundaries. However, as a writer I can vouch for the fact that when we’re writing about our characters, we’re thinking about those characters, not about ourselves. Hmmm. It can probably safely be said then, that few writers could answer my first question with an honest yes.

But let’s consider that hypothetical situation briefly. That is, let’s say you’ve written a sex scene that emanated from your imaginings of yourself and your spouse. No harm done then? Let me ask a further question – Do you believe the majority of your readers will be imagining their own marriages when reading your erotic description? Or will they be seeing the characters co-created by a combination of your words and their own imaginations? I would argue that in virtually 100% of cases, the latter will be the truth.

Scripturally, I believe, there is no doubt. Jesus said to his disciples, "It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come! "It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble.’ Mark 9:42

To me, that’s the end of the story. No more questions need to be asked. We can portray love and passion with our literary skill ... and yet leave it at the bedroom door. But that’s just me.
Are you prepared to be a stumbling block? I welcome all questions and comments.

Melinda Jensen
(A mother and grandmother. A lover of, and believer in, Jesus Christ. A writer. An advocate for the disadvantaged. A campaigner for equality in all its forms. A pusher of boundaries while respecting the same.)

Monday, 22 February 2016

Writing is hard work, and there's no way around it

This morning I got up at 6 and was at the oval by 6.15, where I spent 40 minutes sprinting, jogging, and generally huffing and puffing. Also, sweating and smelling bad. A lot.

This is what I do now.

It began a year and two months ago, when I decided I had to get fit, or risk dying on the sofa at a ridiculously early age. The main problem with that scenario wasn’t the actual dying part; it was not having time to do all the writing I plan to do for the rest of my life.

The first time I ran, I managed about 200 metres before I had to stop, bend double and spend at least five minutes recovering, while my fit, 15 year old daughter looked on, shaking her head. “Can’t you go any further?”

It turns out, I could. And I did. Slowly. I crawled my way through the first four months of learning to run again after literally 26 years of sedentary life. And then, I made my big goal: I ran to the bridge and back!

And I was disappointed.

Somehow, I expected that once I’d made my goal and reached my high point, everything would get easier. The fact was, it didn’t. I was still slow. Everything still hurt. I did not hurtle along the path like a leaping gazelle, as I imagined myself. Running was still H-A-R-D W-O-R-K.

Eight months later, it’s still hard work. I run with friends now, which helps, but it’s hard. Yes, I can run faster. Yes, I’m stronger. Yes, I have more flexibility and a quicker recovery time, but it all hurts, and I still hate it, but I do it because I want to be fit, I want to be healthy. Heck, I even want to be good at it.

This is me, doing in the 'Iron Woman' obstacle race at our local show this year. Last year I came last. This year I had improved - all the way to second last. Progress!

The theme of my life, right now, is that nothing worthwhile is easy. I’m learning the cello as an adult; I want to be really good at it, but almost every practice session feels like I’m making no progress at all. It’s hard work. I’m a parent to four children. There’s a lot of work involved. In fact, it’s mostly work – physical, emotional and spiritual work.

And, of course, writing is hard work. I want to be a good writer, not a mediocre writer, and that takes work. It’s hard work to get that first draft down when other things are calling. It’s hard to put in the hours to refine the next drafts, to make the story work, to build into the characters. It’s hard to accept feedback and hear criticisms from editors. It’s hard to get published, or to publish yourself. Once you’ve done one book, the second is just as hard, and the third is harder still.

In my fitness, my music, and my writing – in fact, in all areas of life – I’m learning that progress comes slowly, with commitment, dedication and practice. In other words, work. Yes, there are some areas of life which are easy and fun and you hardly have to try. But mostly, it’s about getting in and doing the job. And continuing to do it, day in and day out.

My music teacher said to me: “The music world is a meritocracy. You do the work, you get the result.” It’s the same for writing. If you do the work of learning, growing and improving, and write better and better each time, people will make space on the shelf for your work.

Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way, that make the hard work slightly less overwhelming, and the progress be seen more quickly:

1.  Break your big task down into small tasks. Focus on each small task, one at a time. 

2. Take the time to do the small things well, and get them right. Don’t cut corners or skip through and think ‘Oh, that’s good enough. No one will notice’.

3. Having said that, it’s better to write a bad first draft than no first draft. There’s a balance between getting something good on the page, and getting nothing on the page. You can’t edit nothing, or make nothing better.

4. Get a teacher or mentor or editor. I’ve worked harder in fitness with others than I ever did on my own. Having someone to bounce off and learn from is the greatest thing you can do.

5. Do it every day. (Or, at least 5-6 days a week.) Practice is essential.

6. Realise: You can ALWAYS do more than you think you can. You are always more capable than you think you are. You always have a choice to do that, or something slightly better than that. Choose the slightly better version every time.

Cecily Paterson writes warmhearted fiction for young teenage girls. Find her blog and books at

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Putting myself out there - Jo-Anne Berthelsen

Each January, or sometimes even late the previous year, I look at my list of speaking engagements and/or book promotion events for the year ahead and usually find I need more. So what to do? Should I wait and pray and leave it to God to prompt people to contact me?  Should I instead be more proactive and think of places where I can offer myself as a speaker? Or is it a matter of combining these two approaches?

Now I know from past experience that God has amazing ways of bringing speaking engagements to me I would never have imagined could happen. For example, a couple of years ago, I received an email from a friend, tentatively asking if I would be available to speak at their church’s women’s retreat. She had been idly chatting with her minister’s wife, as they sat watching their respective sons play soccer, when this lady asked her out of the blue if she knew anyone who might speak at their upcoming retreat. My friend suggested me, despite the fact we had not seen each other for several years and were now in different church denominations. The minister’s wife soon contacted me and, after a few emails and phone calls and a meeting with the retreat committee, we were off and running. It was a special weekend, and, as my friend and I drove home together, we marvelled at the way God had brought it all together.

But I also know from past experience how people often need speakers but don’t quite know whom to contact. So I decided some years back to take the risk of emailing various groups to tell them a bit about myself and my writing journey and let them know I am available to speak. In my email, I always try not to be too pushy. I merely offer myself in what I hope is humility and accept their response. Often I never hear back. Sometimes I receive an email that says something along the lines of ‘Thanks for contacting us. We have organised our speakers for the year but will keep you in mind for next year.’ But sometimes I receive a much more positive response where some lovely person tells me more about their group and asks when I would be available—or even a relieved phone call to organise a date and to thank me for emailing!

So this year, I once again prayed hard, then plunged into writing emails to all sorts of places. I was well aware of the danger of doing things in my own strength. But as I prayed, I sensed God was encouraging me to be proactive and put myself out there once again. Now the time has come to wait and to keep praying—and writing my next book! So far, four groups have invited me to speak, but that is only a small percentage of those I contacted. Will there be more? I don’t know. But I know I have done my best, believing God was leading me as I did.

Is this the way you would go about such things yourself, as a published author? People are different, I am aware, but I would be interested to hear your responses.

Jo-Anne Berthelsen lives in Sydney but grew up in Brisbane. She holds degrees in Arts and Theology and has worked as a high school teacher, editor and secretary, as well as in local church ministry. Jo-Anne is passionate about touching hearts and lives through both the written and spoken word. She is the author of six published novels and one non-fiction work, Soul Friend: the story of a shared spiritual journey. Jo-Anne is married to a retired minister and has three grown-up children and four grandchildren. For more information, please visit

Monday, 15 February 2016

Who's leading you?

Pretend for a moment that your new manuscript (or book) is a human. Imagine it as a person like yourself, in need of all the things you need to survive and succeed.
Pause now and contemplate this. Visualize it. Get a picture in your head. Think about your work as a force separate to you—almost like a child. It has come through you, but is not you.
Got the picture? If you haven't, contemplate the idea for a few minutes until you get that picture.
Go it?
Now, answer these questions:
Who is its closest relationship with?
Who does it spent the most time with?
Who does it seek guidance from?
Who is its biggest influence?
Who will stand up for it?
Fight for it?
Love it?
Who do you trust to help it succeed?
What does its success look like to you?
Whose hands have you put it in?
Did you answer ‘Jesus’? To all of the questions? To any of the questions?
I recently had to ask myself these questions in hindsight, because I have decided to give up trying to sell my book.
"GIVE UP SELLING?" you cry. "Why would you do that? Aren't you an author, and an Indie one at that?"
"Yes," I say. "But I could pitch my work to every publishing house in the world. I could get an agent. I could read the books, pay for the marketing, and count the 'likes'. But at the end of the day, this work I do isn’t for profit or glory. It’s for Jesus. I’ve stopped trying to do the things He says He will do for me. His direction is what matters."
What matters to you?
For me, I've always known my writing is the ministry the Lord had given me, but I never understood what that meant until recently.
It meant I had to stop trying so hard and give it to Jesus.
He is the orchestrator of my future. Of the future of my writing. He is my greatest investor. He has the greatest interest in seeing my work succeed—and, like our natural children (our sons and daughters), success is not necessarily the goals we dreamed of, but the success the Lord has planned.
Who are we? Are we servants as we are called to be? Or are we capitalists, producing a product purely with the expectation of a financial dividend? Is our measure of success judged by the awards on the shelf, the money in the bank, by how many people know our name? Is it our glory we are seeking? Or His? Does our work bring us closer the the Lord? or closer to worldly success?
How do we view our success? is it in line with a scriptural picture of success?
These are all questions I have contemplated and prayed about. I have gained an enduring peace from the Lord’s answers. I don't work to produce books. I work to serve the Lord. The work I do for Him brings ME closer to Him, and I give the work back to Him, so He can use it to work in others. My work isn't about me and them—the readers, the sellers, the agents, the world. It's about me and Him—Jesus.
These revelations have given me a boost of energy and a clear direction. I know the Lord wants me to work at writing. He wants me to work at selling as well, but to sell His way. Sometimes the work is hard, but the greatest blessing is to be given the chance to work for Him. I trust Him to give me the inspiration, and to give me the avenues for selling.

There is one more amazement to add to this revelation. I don't know where my work is heading, but I do know whose hands it’s in—and that is all I need to know. 

Rose, who holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree, was born in North Queensland, Australia. Her childhood experiences growing up in a small beach community would later provide inspiration for her first novel, Back to Resolution. Beyond Resolution and A New Resolution are the second and third books in the Resolution series.
Back to Resolution won the Bookseller’s Choice award at the 2012 CALEB Awards, while A New Resolution won the 2013 CALEB Prize for Fiction. She has also released The Greenfield Legacy, a collaborative novel, written in conjunction with three other outstanding Australian authors, and has recently released the standalone novel, Ehvah After.
Her novels are inspired by the love of her coastal home and desire to produce exciting and contemporary stories of faith for women. Rose resides in Mackay, North Queensland with her husband and son.

Photo from 

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Encouraging boys to read

I see so many articles that say boys don't read. As the mother of a boy who reads, I find this quite amusing. One of my sons reads so much that we can hardly keep up with him!!

My other son reads, just not quite as much. At 14, he has other things he wants to do, however he does love stories and is constantly listening to audio books.

To encourage a love of reading in my boys, there a number of things we have done. These include:

  • Always having books in the house - we have a large library that includes books of many different styles.
  • Let them read whatever they want - we haven't limited the books to ones deemed "age appropriate". If they want to read a picture book when they are 10, that's OK. If they want to read Harry Potter at 7, then great.
  • Find books that feed their interests - whether it's a fiction or non-fiction book, finding books that are related to their interests keeps them interested in reading, and can even spark the love of a type of book or a particular author
  • Let them read what I'm writing - I suppose my kids are lucky their mum is a children's author, but being involved in the process of writing and publishing books has also encouraged them to read. They love picking up errors in my books, and look for them in any book they read!
  • Set a challenge - my kids are competitive and there has been a number of times when I set them a reading challenge. Most recently, my 12 year old is joining me on the PopSugar reading challenge, but we've had to tweak it a bit.
  • Giving them books & book vouchers as gifts - this helps with the first point, but letting them choose a book with a book voucher or giving them a book I think they will enjoy gives them a buzz, and a new book to read.
Boys do read, we just need to make sure they have the tools to do so... so give them access to as many books as they like so they can find a love of reading.

Melissa Gijsbers lives in Melbourne with her two sons. She has a day job as a bookkeeper and in her spare time is a blogger and author.

Follow her writing journey at You can also follow her son's writing challenge at Zac Reads Books.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Twice stolen by Susanne Timpani

Are you Aboriginal?
This is the most common question I am asked after describing my novel. 

Twice stolen is a work of Inspirational Fiction. The main character, Dimitri, discovers he may have Aboriginal heritage. The story provides just enough historical and cultural information to pique the readers' curiosity to go away and discover more for themselves. 

I am not an Indigenous Australian and this novel reflects the journey I have undertaken to learn more. Dimitri grew up with as much - or little - knowledge as the average Australian child. When faced with the question of his identity, he is forced to look and learn. Regardless of the outcome of his search, the richness it brings to his life is invaluable.

The first book launch I ever attended was the autobiography of Aboriginal author Doris Kartinyeri, with Kick the Tin. Doris was stolen from her crib in a SA country hospital when she was less than one month old. The launch was held on the empty grounds of the Children's Home where she grew up. The Home had gone and the land returned to its natural scrub, protected as national park. In my spirit I heard the children's laughter. And felt their pain.

I felt shame at my ignorance of our nation's dark history. As an Australian writer, I needed to know more, and I needed to write about what I found.

As well as personal research, I have been blessed by Aboriginal people willing to share snippets of their and their families' life story. 

I wish to acknowledge the generosity of Lyn Lovegrove Niemz, award-winning Ngarrindjeri artist, in painting the stunning border on the front cover of Twice stolen. Like myself, Lyn works in the health and welfare field and I treasure the insights she has allowed me to have into her world and the world of her people.

I have taken a risk in writing this story. As a non-Aboriginal some may say it is not my story to tell. But I have listened to my heart. If just one reader learns something new and gains deeper respect for the resilience and commitment of Aboriginal people to overcome our nation's dark past, the risk has been worthwhile.

The characters in the genre of Inspirational Fiction face life's challenges through the eyes of their Christian faith. Dimitri and Leah fall in love with the biblical Song of Songs (or Solomon). A Blog post with 
Adele Jones tomorrow explores this perspective of Twice stolen.

Twice stolen won the CALEB prize for an unpublished manuscript. It is due for release on Valentine's Day weekend in South Australia. The book is published by Armour Books and Susanne will have the honour of the publisher, Annie Hamilton, travel to SA to launch the book.

Further information on Susanne's website:
or Goodreads

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Spend time with Me

by Pamela Heemskerk

A few months ago I came back from Christian Writers’ Conference all excited and inspired. And some attendees shared with me their writing ideas prompted by a weekend feasting on words. I was surprised, even shocked, by the size of the projects God has placed in some hearts. When I heard the ideas some shared, I thought, ‘Wow! That’s huge. How will s/he find time for that?’

But I know that God’s plans for us are huge. He sees far more potential in us than we ever see in ourselves. Then He enables that potential so we achieve what He sets for us to do. What’s more, He can organize us creative, disorganized types, to achieve it in a set time-frame.
I had just a taste of this a few weeks before the CWC where our minister claimed this empowering for the church in the coming week. His prayer went, ‘…and those of you who have deadlines this week, you are going to meet them.’ I had two in 48 hours and I thought, ‘No chance.’

I met them both. Without stress.

I’ve been reading Lisa Bevere’s Out of Control and Loving It recently (where would we be without books!), and she talks about who we are in Christ. We are not just barely saved, we are not fringe-dwellers in the Kingdom, but we have our feet firmly planted in Christ. We have access to our Father for all the power of Heaven in Jesus. We can ask for all that we need to fulfil His purposes for us, and know that He will provide. After all, He promises to equip those He calls.

And yes, I have been afraid too. Especially when it is making something as personal as writing public. Yet the Bible teaches ‘Remain in my love’ and ‘Perfect love casts out all fear’. I wasn’t ‘given’ a specific post-conference project. I strongly feel God has been saying instead: ‘Spend time with Me’.
I’m learning to overcome my fear of vulnerability by placing my confidence in God and in His love. It is less about my goals and plans and more about His. And I can only achieve those by staying close to Him, following His timing, and resting in His care.

How big a part does God play in your creative ministry? Do you wait on Him? Offer your work to Him? How does God empower you to reach His goals? How much of yourself will you let God have?

Do you, in the midst of your busy-ness,
spend time with Him?

Monday, 1 February 2016

Starting with Platform

by Jeanette O'Hagan

In a spirit of cooperation between Christian Writers Downunder and Australasian Christian Writers will be doing a series of cross-posts (posted on both blogs) on the first Monday of each month during 2015 and beyond.  The posts will be teasing out different aspects of marketing and promotion, looking at author platforms, social media, blogging, launches, and other ways to bring a book to the attention of our readers.

Why Marketing?

For many, marketing is a dirty word. After all, didn’t Paul say the love money is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Tim 6:10)? Shouldn’t we leave it up to God to decide who our audience will be? Isn’t it selfish and prideful to want a large audience? Isn’t it enough that our writing touches the hearts of a few individuals, especially if we see our writing as ministry? (Of course, writing may be our career rather than as a calling (or as both). Christians in business, trade or professions have no problem with advertising their services).

As more and more books are published, it is hard to be noticed in the ocean of offerings. I agree that the size of our audience isn’t the most important thing. While Peter had the opportunity to preach to thousands, the Israelite slave girl, as far as we know, had an audience of two (Naaman and his wife). Yet God used her courage and willingness to speak.

So why marketing? Trusting God with the success and impact of our writing doesn’t exclude promoting our work. To use another Biblical reference, let’s not bury our ‘talent’ out of fear (Matthew 25). In today’s world, writing the book and getting it to publishable standard is only part (though a vital part) of what it means to be a writer. Whether a book is traditionally published or indie published, you will be need to be involved in promotion of your book. If the readers who would be moved by your book don’t know about it, how can they read it? To paraphrase Paul again, ‘How can they know if they do not hear?’ (cf Rom 10:14)

Most publishers, agents and pundits suggest that the sooner you begin building connections with people who would be interested in what you write (your platform) the better. And that this is a ongoing process that should start months or years before your book is first launched.

What is an author’s platform?

A platform is the sum total of the connections you have, your social imprint and reputation. A platform makes you visible to your future readers. This could consist of:
  • Family, friends, colleagues, etc
  • Special interest groups you are involved in that are connected to your topic or genre (e.g. clubs, societies etc)
  • Public profile – as a speaker or on mass media or because of your position or credentials (politician, elite sportsperson, celebrity etc).
  • Being considered an expert in a field (through media or blogging or youtube etc).

 If you write non-fiction, blogging on your subject area, being a media expert or being a prominent speaker all help build a platform.

However, having a platform is also important for fiction writers, thought the nature of the platform is different.

How can you connect with readers (especially if you’re not published yet)?

Think about who you are (primarily) writing for - children, teens or adults; men or women, as well as your genre or area of interest? Consider ways of connecting with these future readers and ways you can make yourself visible/findable.
  • Think about your (pen)name – is it unique or common. Have an intriguing tagline or identifiable look.
  • Consider having a website as a home base
  • Maybe you could write short stories, poems or reviews, and share them with your audience – on your blog, on social media or in magazines and journals. Enter competitions.
  • Blog or write on areas of interest to you and your audience that are connected to your books – on your own blog, guest blogs, or media.
  • Interact and support other writers, go to conferences and workshops
  • Be active on at least one or two forms of social media – eg Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, Youtube etc
  • Start building an Email subscription list
  • Join groups – writers groups but also groups that connect to your books and future readers.
  • Pray for guidance about connections or the best use of your time.

Traps to avoid

  • Don’t be in a rush, building a genuine platform takes time. Quality is better than quantity.
  • Don’t be a pest, don’t make about you all the time. Many pundits suggest limiting direct promotion to 10% of your output (though there maybe be an increase around certain events – like book launches)
  • Give your followers something of interest and value to them and encourage interaction
  • Be honest and genuine – but avoid venting or bashing - and think carefully about you and your family’s privacy (you don’t need to reveal everything)
  • Don’t try to do everything or you will be overwhelmed. Maybe take up one new avenue (e.g. website or Facebook) at a time and make sure you feel comfortable before moving on to the next one.
  • Find what works best for you – not everything is going to be a good fit. It’s better to enjoy your involvement and make genuine connections with people.
  • Don't just take, support other writers
  • Don't be inpatient or discouraged, remember, it takes time.

What things have worked for you in building an audience or platform? What things didn’t work so well? If the idea of having a platform is new to you, do you have any questions you would loved answered?

Here are some links if you want to learn a bit more about platforms:

Jane Friedman ‘A Definition of Author Platform’
Dan Blank ‘The Dirty Secret of Author Platform’
Joel Friedlander ‘Author Platform: What are you waiting for?’

On March 7, Iola Goulton will be talking to about author websites. Hoping you enjoy and join in the discussion.

This post was also published on Australasian Christian Writers 1 February 2016

Images: copyright Jeanette O'Hagan 2016

 Jeanette O’Hagan enjoys writing fiction, poetry, blogging and editing. She is writing her Akrad’s Legacy Series—a Young Adult secondary world fantasy fiction with adventure, courtly intrigue and romantic elements. Her short stories and poems are published in a number of anthologies including Glimpses of LightAnother Time Another Place and Like a Girl.

Jeanette has practised medicine, studied communication, history, theology and, more recently, a Master’s in writing. She loves reading, painting, travel, catching up for coffee with friends, pondering the meaning of life and communicating God’s great love. She lives in Brisbane with her husband and children.

You can find her at her Facebook Page or at Goodreads or on Amazon or on her websites or Jeanette O'Hagan Writes .